Dinner Cruise Company Nets $1 Million Stimulus Check

$1 Million offered to Chicago-based company

Among the many high-tech tools America can employ against terrorism -- airplane drones, bomb-defusing robots, cargo-monitoring radiation scanners -- our enemies will never suspect they're about to be outwitted by the most cunning defense of all:

The Chicago dining cruise.

That's right. In its efforts to combat terrorism, The Department of Homeland Security gave about $1 million in federal stimulus money to Entertainment Cruises, LLC, according to Medill Reports.

If that company sounds familiar, it should. The Chicago-based business hosts several events—on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River—on the Odyssey, the Spirit of Chicago, the Mystic Blue, and the Seadog speedboat. Entertainment Cruises also runs boats in Boston, Washington D.C., and New York City.

That Entertainment Cruises received the monies was first reported by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) in December 2009 in their Stimulus Checkup report. The cruise company's $1 million was among 100 "questionable projects."

According to Medill Reports, the Department of Homeland Security explained that the money given to Entertainment Cruises "will help prevent and detect terrorist attacks; increase the use of tamper-resistant biometric credentials for workers in secure areas; and improve emergency communications at sea and in ports."

In response, Entertainment Cruises said the money is used to "meet new maritime security regulations for passenger vessels."

Well, woops. The Stimulus Checkup report quotes Entertainment Cruises vice president Gary Frommelt as saying, "We feel that we're really a low threat for a terrorist incident. But the stimulus was a nice perk."

So which is it? Securing our shoreline borders, or wasteful spending? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

Update: this article has been changed to more accurately reflect reporting from Medill Reports.

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